Saturday, February 25, 2017

Florida Holiday - MokaKat Sailing

After closing on MokaKat in mid-December, we were really excited to head down to Florida and checkout the new boat and spend some time in warmer climates.  Blake, my youngest son, and I decided to go drive down from Arkansas, taking all of our water toys, tools, scuba tanks and other heavy items that we couldn't fly down with.  

We grabbed my fishing kayak from our Beaver Lake cabin.

Two kayaks, SUP, scuba tanks, tools all packed and ready to go!

It took about 18 hours of driving to make it to West Palm Beach.  Blake helped a lot in the driving, and after driving all night, we arrived at the marina mid afternoon.

s/vFeeby, soon to be s/vMokaKat was waiting for us!

The goal of the week was to have some fun, get to know our new catamaran and provision the boat for the trip to the Bahamas in February!  
 Holiday spirit was alive at the marina!!!
 Stone Crab Claws!!!  Yum!!!
Blake enjoying Stone Crab Claws

We took down the dingy out one day and took it out the pass to the ocean facing beach.  The wind was low that day, and we enjoyed walking on the beach.  The water was a little cold, swimming in from the anchored dinghy!

The next day, we decided to kayak over to Peanut Island and do some exploring.  It was about a mile Kayak paddle, but we had to cross the boat channel, dodging the many holiday boaters.  

 Blake taking a break.
 Heading under the bridge to Peanut Island
 We called this sailboat, Bird Boat.  I felt sorry for this boat owner
 We had to cross the busy boat channel, and this yacht isn't going to yield to a couple of kayaks
 Wait a minute, what is Blake looking at?????
 Blake was checking out the bow ornaments on the super yacht!
 Peanut Island on a busy holiday week

 SUP-TowUS....when you are too tired to make it home!

We then paddled over to a sandbar that was closer to the bridge.  There were tons of boats and dogs were running crazy everywhere!  It was far more exciting than Peanut Island!
 Blake making it to the sandbar
 Dog heaven!!!
Busy sandbar in West Palm Beach

180 Photo of the sandbar

It was about this time that three girls walked over and were checking out Blake's kayak.  Blake said, Dad, isn't about time that you get lost...and can I have $20?  I took the hint and paddled back to MokaKat.  He did make it back before dark!

While we had a truck in West Palm Beach we went to Sams, Walmart, FreeDivers, Lott Brothers, and West Marine.  We bought many of the items that we would need to travel to the Bahamas and all of the big or heavy items needed on the boat.  The boat was much lower in the water after our shopping!

 Sam's Club shopping
Packed shopping trip!
Blake found a coconut floating in bay while we were kayaking.  Some hard work and an electric drill, yielded a great snack!

The last morning sunrise on MokaKat for a few weeks!

Until next time, MokaKat!!!!

Next blog will be on the Gulf Crossing to the Bahamas!!!!  Happy Sailing on MokaKat!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New s/vMokaKat!!!!!

It's been about two and a half years since I sold the original s/vMokaKat and returned back to my corporate life with Walmart.  Since then, I have been planning on how to return back to my sailing life.   Walmart has kept me very busy, working with our International markets on infrastructure related projects.  The list of countries that I have had the privilege to travel to are: Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil, and UK.  I also had the opportunity to sail with my friends Deb and Chuck on s/vNeytiri while they were in Belize last year!   Though the travel did help me with my wanderlust tendencies, I was still trying to justify getting a catamaran again.  

Late last year, 2016, I saw a never chartered 2013 Leopard L39 owners version catamaran that had just been offered on Yacht World.  I quickly contacted my broker, Gary Fretz, and the negotiation started.  It took a week or so, but finally we came to terms and a quick trip to West Palm Beach was scheduled.  
Since I have been through the boat buying process before, the steps were much easier.  On the trip, we did an inspection, survey and sea trial.  Since the boat was so new and never abused, it checked out excellently.  As usual, there were a few minor issues that were quickly resolved and then the boat was accepted!  

The week before the boat closing, I had to travel to London for a challenging work project.  I ended up staying a few more days in London to complete the project, and that created a bit of a rat race for me when I returned.  I had just 4 days before closing to complete all of the boat closing requirements!  It was a little stressful, as I had to complete the following tasks: collect all funds needed to close, wire transfer funds to escrow account, find insurance that would allow the boat to be in the Bahamas during hurricane season, find dockage in Florida, sign all boat papers, coordinate the Florida 90 day cruising permit, and many more little things!  At the end, everything came together and we closed without any issues!  

I now am the owner of the new s/vMokaKat (previously s/vFeeby).  It was funny, as the previous owner told me that I also named my cat after a dog!  It took me a minute to catch on, but Feeby was their dog that they had many years, and they named their cat (catamaran) after their dog.  Moka, was also my chocolate lab, that I named MokaKat after!  The previous owners, Juanita and Glenn have been extremely helpful in the handover.  It is always a pleasure to have a positive turnover in ownership.  

Coming next, road trip to West Palm Beach and s/vMokaKat!

Happy Sailing!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

MokaKat Sailing Update and Summary

It’s been a while since I have posted on the blog, so let me catch you up!  After turning over MokaKat to the new owners (Trey and Karen) on June 6th, I flew back to Arkansas and ‘normal’ life.  Walmart had been very generous in granting me a 12 month leave of absence (LOA) for my sabbatical, and I had 30 days to find a position.  Life was extremely hectic, as I adapted back to living in the US.  I was also having withdrawals from my cruising life. 

Trey, Karen (new owners), Dale and Bubba - Last MokaKat photo

It was nice to drive to the nearest Walmart and be able to buy almost everything that you need in one trip!  It was also very nice to be driving again!  No more walking a mile and dragging a two wheeler full of groceries back to the boat!  On the other side, I had to deal with cellular carriers, internet providers, insurance companies, cable TV carriers, car registrations, and car repairs, along with my personal ‘honey dew’ list that one year of absence grew pretty large!  On top of that, I had the pressure of finding a position at Walmart before my 30 day period expired, leaving me unemployed!

Well, I survived my first month back, and knocked many items off of my personal list.  I was very fortunate to find a job back at Walmart, as Sr. Program Manager for our International Data Centers.  This was a perfect fit for me, with my international and infrastructure experience!  I am very grateful to have completed the loop and be back working at Walmart and receiving a paycheck!

So, yes, I am back into a normal life, my hair is cut, my son is in school, and I have to get up around 5:30 every day to head to work.  I feel refreshed to be back at work, as the year off really gave me the break I needed.  I very much enjoyed my cruising life, but needed to go back to work to finish up my career and take care of my family.  I plan on heading back to cruising life in 4 or 5 years, on a more permanent base.

Since I have been back, I have been asked many times if it was worth it, taking off a year and cruising.  Without a doubt, I always say yes!!!  I think that it is different for everyone, what dreams and passions that you have.  I know that the year before I sent sailing, dreaming about cruising consumed me totally.

Recap of my Sabbatical Timeline:
2012 – October – Attended a week long ASA certification class in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Barefoot Sailing.  I was on a 42 foot Fountaine Pajot catamaran, and truly enjoyed the week.  I was certified in ASA 101, 103, 104, and 114.
2013 – Early Spring – Hired Gary Fretz as a broker and consultant to help me find a catamaran.
2013 – June - Made an offer on a Lagoon 3800 and visited it in the Bahamas.  Ended up passing on that boat, but fell in love with the Leopard 40.
2013 – July – Backup offer on a 2009 Leopard 40 Owners version was accepted, after the primary buyer backed out.
2013 – August 8 – Traveled to Placencia Belize with everything I could take in two suitcases, closed, and took possession of s/v CAPER, a 2009 Leopard L40 Owners version.   Our cruising life has started.  My mother came with me, as my older son just opened a restaurant in Arkansas.
2013 – August/September – Stayed at the Moorings Marina for these two months.  We traveled out to different cayes close to Placencia during our first two months.  The learning curve was high, but we survived.  We finally got acclimated to the heat and living without A/C.
2013 – October/November – Sailed to Rio Dulce, Guatemala at the end of September.  We were lucky to have Phil and Julie to help crew with us on the trip.  It didn't hurt that they were gourmet cooks!  We stayed seven weeks at Mar Marine in Rio Dulce, while we added solar to our boat and fixed some quirky engine starting issues.  We totally enjoyed the live on the Rio!  We assisted Mar Marine with their Wifi network issues and enjoyed Movie Night and Swap meets.  We also made many friends and attended many BBQs. (Thanks Geff, Rose, Robert, Yoanna, Julia, Mike, Oliver, Vivian, Marlena, and Sonny)
2013 – Thanksgiving/Christmas – We sailed back to Belize at the end of November.  We struggled with several cold fronts, and spend 3 days at Pelican Cays, hiding from the bad weather.  We sailed up to San Pedro, enjoying many cays on the way up.  My son, Blake was able to fly down and spend 9 days on the boat.  He was able to swim with the sharks and rays at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, catch lots of fish and lobster, and sail half of the country of Belize.
2013 – February/March – My wife Maria Paula received her US Citizenship and I flew back to Arkansas to celebrate with her and bring her back to visit the boat.  She stayed 10 days and enjoyed snorkeling and sailing in southern Belize.  Hatchet Caye was her favorite!
2013 – April -My sister and her husband (Kathi and Mike), enjoyed 10 days on MokaKat.  We started in Placencia and made it to Belize City to drop Mike off at the airport.  During their stay, we survived a 50 knot storm, seasickness and a hook in my thumb.  We ended up talking Kathi into staying on for an additional two weeks to help us sail to Mexico. 
We also listed the boat with Gary Fretz on a three month contract.  I was trying to decide putting the boat into a charter company or selling.  Within a week, we had a good offer, so it was off to Mexico for the inspection, sea trail and survey.
We checked out of Belize from San Pedro on a Wednesday, and headed to Mexico out the pass at 6:00 on Thursday.  We enjoyed a 31 hour sail (240NM) trip, averaging over 7 knots and setting a boat speed record of 10.5 knots.  The sail was perfect with 20 knot east winds and a full moon.  We arrived in Isla Mujeres, Mexico and anchored by 1:00 PM on Good Friday.  We were able to check into Mexico on Saturday and were free to roam around, enjoying the restaurants and many new friends. 
2013 – May – The first offer and acceptance fell through, and we had a backup offer within a few days.  Karen, one of the prospective owners, flew to Isla Mujeres and did an inspection and sea trial.  They purchased the original survey from the first buyer, and within a week, they accepted the boat! 

We had several guests of the boat during the waiting period for the closing of the boat.  James, Kim, and Jeremy, our friends from Colorado spend a couple days with us.  My mother crewed on a monohull toward Belize, but had storms, steering failure, and general bad luck, ended up back in Isla Mujeres.  She was very happy to be back on MokaKat.  She ended up flying out to Belize after recovering a few days.    Bubba, my good friend from Arkansas also spent 10 days with us.  At the end of his stay, we turned over the boat to Karen and Trey, the new owners.   Bubba and I flew out of Cancun back to Arkansas, and my sailing adventure came to a close.  

Wow, what a fast and exciting year!  

Happy Sailing on MokaKat!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bubba is in the House!!!! Good Bye MokaKat!!!

So one of my best friends from back in Arkansas is Bubba.  His real name is Robert, but I believe that somewhere down the road, he earned the name Bubba!  He is usually a little crazy, so I was hoping that we wouldn't end up in a Mexican jail in the next 10 days!  We have been wanting to get together on the boat for most of the year, but with work and other things he wasn't able, until now!  Bubba is in the house!!!!

Bubba wanted to experience the cruising life, so the first day I had him in the front locker unbolting the windlass.  Of course it was 90 something degrees and 100 percent humidity, normal for us cruising types.  Of course Bubba wasn't used to high temperatures, as Arkansas has had a real cold winter and spring, and he was suffering helping me with the windlass.  The windlass stopped working a couple of days before, and we couldn't take the boat out without it working.  Also, the new owners expected it to be perfect, so we needed to get it fixed fast!  After removing the bolts and taking out the windlass, we took it over to a mechanic at one of the local marinas.  It turned out that the o-ring was leaking gear oil into the electric motor, and all it needed was a good cleaning and new o-rings!  After we installed it back, it worked better than it ever had!  The next boat I buy, I will service the windlass the first week!!!  

We also walked a mile to the local grocery store to buy beer!  We used our little two wheeler to bring a couple of cases back to the boat!  I guess we could have taken the $3 taxis, but I needed to break Bubba into the cruising life in the right way!

That night we were able to meet up with Josh and his wife, who were friends of Bubba and had been vacationing in Isla Mujeres.  They had been out to MokaKat earlier in the week, but because of the broken windlass, we were not able to go sailing.

Also, my mother ended up back on MokaKat, after her exciting trip toward Belize.  She was done with mono hulls for awhile, and was happy to be back on MokaKat!  Her misadventure was documented on an earlier post, for anyone that missed it!  

So the next day we wanted to sail offshore and go fishing.  We just had a few days before the new owners were coming, so we wanted to take advantage of one last sail. There is a great fishing spot about 15 NM east of Isla Mujeres called Arrowsmith Bank, and that was where we were heading.  We motored out of the harbor and around the island on the south side.  The seas were rather large, but we still enjoyed a nice sail.  The only problem was that the wind was directly east, so we headed a little north east and would have to tack back east to get to Arrowsmith.  

 The East side of Isla Mujeres and large ocean waves
 My mom enjoying time back on MokaKat

The sail out was fun, but our fishing was frustrating.  I lost two of my newest and largest lures due to faulty leaders.  We still haven't made it to Arrowsmith and the day was getting late, so we decided to head back to harbor.  In desperation, I pulled out my trusty 6 inch Rapala, the one that has caught many snapper and barracudas in Belize.  It is a little small for open ocean fishing, but it was the only thing that I had left.  It was beaten up, had many scratches from large teeth, and the paint was rubbed off in many places.  I put it on with a new leader, and let out the line.  

It wasn't just a few minutes before the reel started singing out!!!  Fish on!!!  Bubba ran to grab the rod and I took control of MokaKat.  The fish was running so fast away, that I had to turn MokaKat around and chase it!  This went on for more than 30 minutes, before we finally got control of the situation and could see that we had a large silver fish on the line!  A few more minutes and we were able to gaff a 41 inch Wahoo!!!  This was the new boat record, and weighed over 30 pounds!   

This is where Bubba said 'You are going to need a bigger cooler!!!'

The fish was really bloody, and it took a few minutes to clean up the boat!  Of course Bubba put the line back in the water and we continued fishing.  It wasn't too long and he had another....and another...and another!!!  

Sometime after the fourth fish, I made him stop fishing!  We were all tired of pulling in fish and stopping the boat for each!  We were ready to get back to the harbor and eat some fresh fish!

As we rounded the east side of Isla Mujeres the main sail suddenly came down!  We were on a downwind leg, so there wasn't any damage.  After running up to the mast, it looked like the main halyard shackle either broke or came undone.  The main halyard and the block ended up at the top of the mast, a project for another day,  Luckily, the main halyard was not damaged, an expensive repair.  We secured the main and sailed on the jib arriving shortly into the harbor.  There is always an adventure on MokaKat!   

Cleaning the catch!
That night we had a great dinner of fresh fish cooked on the grill and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

The next day we contracted our friend Zee, who was an expert at going up the mast!  We did a  little bartering and he agreed to go up the mast and retrieve our main halyard.  We cranked him up the main using our spinnaker halyard, taking all of the safety precautions.   While he was up there, he took some beautiful pictures of MokaKat and the anchorage!  Thanks Zee!!!!

 Yes, that is my mother, Bubba, and me down below!

 Zee and Bubba

With Zee's help, we coordinated a Cruiser's Potluck at the Bahia Tortuga Restaurant, a very cruiser friendly place!  We provided all of the fish and everyone brought something.  All together there was more than 40 cruisers there!  It was a great time and everyone got to eat some of our catch of the day!  The new owners of MokaKat, Karen and Trey, arrived earlier in the day, and were able to attend, meeting all of the cruisers.  The potluck was a huge success and thanks went to Zee and Bubba for coordinating and providing the fish!

Our days on MokaKat were winding down.  We moved MokaKat into the marina to clean her up and get her ready for the new owners.  I also got an airline flight for my mom to travel to Belize in a faster method than sailing.  She flew out  the day of the potluck dinner and made it successful to Stepping Stones Report in Belize.  

I spent a couple of days with the new owners to cover everything about MokaKat.  After a couple of fast moving days, Bubba and I headed back to Arkansas, leaving the cruising life behind.  My future was still unknown, but I know that I will be back cruising one day.  

Bubba and I had our last night in Isla Mujeres.  It was raining, and I still made him walk a mile to the town! It was a fitting end to a great 10 months cruising.  We didn't end up in a Mexican Jail, but we did get wet in the rain.  A couple of margaritas later, all was well!

 The famous whale shark picture!
 Last night in Isla Mujeres
The new owners of MokaKat, Karen and Trey!  Fair winds to MokaKat!!!!!

Happy Sailing on MokaKat!!!